Nat Geo: Life Inside Hong Kong’s Coffin Cubicles

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Hong Kong has long been known for its prosperity, yet beneath its glitzy appearance lies a world of squatter huts and cage homes.

#1 An estimated 200,000 Hong Kong residents live in inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organisation.

#2 “Cage homes” are minuscule rooms, occupied by the poorest people in the city.

#3 The tenants differ in age and gender, but all are unable to afford a small cubicle, which would allow more room to stand up.

#4 Hong Kong’s glitter conceals the 200,000 people shut out from the city’s social improvements.

#5 These photographs were taken for SoCO, an NGO fighting for policy changes and decent living standards in the city.

#6 Residents are forced to be creative when storing things in their limited space.

#7 Ah Tin lives in a 12-square-foot bed, closed in by rows and rows of wires. Sorrow has destroyed his appetite, and he rarely eats.

#8 Mr. Leung is one of the few cage dwellers who reads extensively. He’s held down a variety of temporary jobs in his life. However, he’s now too old to get a job and so spends his time reading, escaping from the world of misery and poverty that surrounds him.

#9 “I’m still alive, and yet I am already surrounded by four coffin planks!” says one of Hong Kong’s cage home tenants.

#10 These impoverished residents have few alternatives to living in such intensely cramped spaces.

#11 A 400-square-foot flat can be subdivided to accommodate nearly 20 double-decker sealed bed spaces.

#12 Many cage home residents awake to the cruel reality that all the shimmer and prosperity of Hong Kong is out of reach.

#13 Over the last 10 years, the number of cage homes made of wire mesh has decreased, but they’ve been replaced by beds sealed with wooden planks.

#14 Close proximity in these sub-divided units makes privacy and sound sleep a luxury.

#15 Aged over 60, Mr. Wong still has a full head of black hair. In order to pay his expensive rent, he works in construction sites every day. In his leisure time, he volunteers to help homeless people.

#16 These sub-divided units are actually illegal in Hong Kong.

#17 These members of the Li Chong family—a father and son—are Japanese. Both very tall, they find it hard to move around in the tiny cubicle.

#18 This 50-square-foot cubicle is a multi-function space for the Leung family: it’s their sleeping room, dinning room, and kitchen.

#19 Organizations like the Society for Community Organization (SoCO) are helping to combat these horrible living conditions.

#20 A kitchen-toilet complex in a cage home.

#21 People in Hong Kong struggle to acquire even small and simple homes for themselves.

#22 Hong Kong has long been known for its prosperity, yet beneath its glitzy appearance lies a world of squatter huts and cage homes.

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